New Report Highlights how Organizations are Leveraging Energy Infrastructure to Avoid Outages

Aug. 19, 2019
Hurricanes and wildfires expose vulnerabilities in our energy system. How should organizations react? They may be able to leverage existing energy infrastructure to avoid outages, according to a new white paper from Ameresco.

Today’s organizations and enterprises, especially those dealing with mission-critical facilities or emergency services, know the negative impact of power outages.

Hurricanes and wildfires have “exposed vulnerabilities in our energy system,” according to a new white paper from Ameresco.

Download the full report.

No longer are occasional power outages considered a cost of doing business. Avoiding outages is top of mind. But according to the report, continued aging of grid infrastructure in the US, compounded by a lack of investment in new systems, will only lead to greater downtime.

How should organizations react? Ameresco focuses on organizations’ growing ability to leverage their own infrastructure and energy assets to avoid future outages and become more resilient. Think distributed energy and microgrids.

The price of many distributed energy technologies, such as solar photovoltaic (PV) and energy storage, has dropped significantly, placing them in price parity — or better — with energy supplied from the larger grid.

The US federal government defines resiliency as “the ability to prepare for and adapt to changing conditions and withstand and recover rapidly from disruptions… [including] the ability to withstand and recover from deliberate attacks, accidents, or naturally occurring threats or incidents” in the 2013 Presidential Policy Directive 21.  

An organization’s energy infrastructure can act as the starting point for boosting resiliency. The key technologies that organizations can leverage to improve resiliency are as follows:

  • Combined heat-and-power (CHP)
  • Solar PV
  • Microgrids
  • Demand response programs
  • Software and services

Distributed energy and renewable technology can help achieve resiliency, but the tech can’t take care of it all. Resiliency is “achieved through a thoughtful consideration of an organization’s mission, the risks it faces in maintaining that mission, its existing infrastructure and its long-term planning efforts,” Ameresco says.

In the past organizations tended to think about resiliency and their energy infrastructure only in reaction to a major storm, such as Superstorm Sandy and Hurricane Irene. But now, they are becoming more proactive, driven in part by interest in risk management and mitigation on several fronts, as well as energy management and climate commitments.

It can often be hard — and complicated — to make the business case for resiliency-driven projects. Adding generation, energy storage and microgrid controls for islanding may lead to additional costs. That said, the impact of outages can be far more dramatic.

Ultimately, the decision of whether or not to invest in infrastructure for resiliency sits with the key decision makers within an organization, such as the CEO, CFO and energy manager.  As a useful starting point, decision makers should: 1) Define resiliency in the context of their organization; 2) Assess existing asset portfolio and site potential and evaluate availability of monetization pathways in energy markets.

The full Ameresco report explores the following:

  • Introduction to Resiliency
  • Defining Resiliency
  • Resiliency as an Approach for Risk Mitigation
  • Technologies Delivering Resiliency Benefits
  • Evaluating Investments in Resiliency Technology
  • Case Studies explored include:
    • Marine Corp. Recruit Depot – Parris Island; Parris Island, S.C.
    • Portsmouth Naval Shipyard; Kittery, Maine

Download the new white paper from Ameresco, “Driving Resiliency Through Your Organization’s Energy Infrastructure,” which highlights ways that government agencies, companies, and other organizations can leverage their energy infrastructure to minimize the adverse impacts of major events and become more resilient.

About the Author

Sarah Rubenoff

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